21 November 2019 SYDNEY:
Australian scientists have conducted one of the largest studies into male factor infertility
, reviewing more than 40,000*
semen tests to discover that men do have a biological clock but the lucky lads have much more time on their hands than women. The study also put to bed another common misconception, that if a couple are struggling to conceive, it’s likely to be a problem with the female.
Millions of sperm were involved in the study with results indicating that fertility decline in men only really commences in their mid-40s but even then, it’s not until over 55 that semen analysis results really start to deteriorate.
Dr Derek Lok
said, “there have been numerous studies looking at the impact of female age on the chance of conception but very few on the effect of male age. Women are very aware that their chance of conception declines sharply at 35, but what this study shows is that men’s procreating years are a lot longer.” He added, “while women are born with a limited supply of eggs, men produce sperm throughout their lives.”
Scientists studied semen tests performed at Genea over a ten-year period, between April 2009 to April 2019, reviewing the total sperm count, sperm motility and DNA fragmentation, important parameters when depicting a male patient’s chance of conception.
“The number of sperm in an ejaculate and their mobility is essential but DNA fragmentation is also particularly important. It reflects the quality of the chromosomes in the head of the sperm. Generally as men get older the sperm DNA can become more fragmented, which can lead to lower conception rates and higher miscarriage risks. Over 55, this fragmentation becomes very pronounced,” said Dr Lok.
For the couples that do struggle to fall pregnant it is also a common misconception that there is an issue with the woman’s reproductive system. In about 40% of cases where couples have trouble conceiving, the problem lies with the man, and the quality or quantity of sperm.
Mark Hogan has recently become a new Dad to baby Piper after being diagnosed with a low sperm count three years ago, “whilst I am not an older father I welcome the opportunity to talk about male factor infertility. It’s such a taboo in our society. I was shocked when I discovered I had very little sperm in my ejaculate,” Mr Hogan encourages men to discuss fertility more, “you feel like you are the only one with poor swimmers but the truth is, if you’re not conceiving, men are just as likely to be the contributing factor.”
The study has been peer reviewed with results shared at the Fertility Society of Australia conference in Hobart, in September 2019.
*40,422 semen tests were assessed